Infront Sports & Media and Harris Team Up for Italian Football

Monday, November 12, 2012

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As well as Serie A clubs, this service is proving popular amongst supporters of many of the country’s smaller football clubs.
Swiss-based Infront Sports & Media is one of the leading international sports marketing groups in the world. The company covers all aspects of a successful sport event – including distribution of media rights, sponsorship, media production and event operations. As a key player in winter sport, football and other summer sports, Infront enjoys long-lasting partnerships with 120 rights-holders and hundreds of sponsors and media companies worldwide. 

Italian football fans are amongst the most passionate and ardent in the world. Whether you support Juventus, Inter, Milan, Lazio or Roma, one thing is for sure – supporters will go to (almost) any lengths to keep up with their teams’ exploits.

In this scenario, the multi-screen era is a God-send to soccer fans. Any means of keeping tabs anywhere and anytime is well worth its cost to the average soccer fan in the street. It is so important that laws have been passed by the Italian national parliament.

Infront Italy is contracted by the Italian football leagues (Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A and Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie B) to provide domestic media outlets with highlights for news purposes in compliance with the Italian law. The broadcasters can select interesting action during a live match stream, and will receive that content rapidly from the central production and archiving workflow system for their personalized editing.

Also, thanks to Harris technology, Infront is providing Italian mobile phone network operators with live football video content for distribution to their subscribers. Through a media gateway connected to the system, the Infront editors can create goal clips directly on the timeline of the NLE (non-linear editor) during the live event. The clips are sent to the mobile telecom operators for immediate distribution to end users. 

Finally, to exploit archive rights both inside and outside of Italy, Infront has created and manages an indexed HD digital archive of Italian league football, which is remotely accessible by broadcasters, production companies, football club TV channels and event sponsors. 

How does Harris do that?
Infront Italy’s business requirement was to have soccer action available for viewing on a mobile device three minutes after it took place, allowing the mobile platform to charge for this service. The Harris workflow, based on intelligent media asset management (MAM) systems and super-fast video servers, enables this to take place.

The solution deployed by Harris System Integrator Prevideo at Infront Italy is a highly integrated digital workflow built around an Invenio digital asset management core. The system integrates a number of Harris technologies such as NEXIO AMP video server and storage units, a large Platinum router with a 512 x 1024 video matrix and 6800+ fibre technology; as well as third-party IPV Curator low bit-rate video technology and EMC Isilon storage. 

The tight integration of the Invenio digital asset management with the NEXIO AMP video servers not only allows Infront to record content into a central storage facility, but also allows the live logging and editing of content in high or low resolution as the game is being recorded. 

The system includes 14 record ports, all offering scheduled live ingest through Invenio Capture as well as live proxy logging.  Invenio Insight allows users to view the live content being recorded and to add metadata to clips. Simultaneously, low-resolution files are created by the third-party IPV Curator system, which is integrated into NEXIO. Curator streams files out of the NEXIO SAN and makes them accessible for annotation to low-res clients or transcodes them for mobile phone distribution.

30 Final Cut Pro editors are connected to NEXIO and provide direct access to content on the NEXIO SAN as it is being recorded. Editors can prepare TV, web and mobile phone highlights on the go, which speeds up the production process significantly. When the final whistle blows, highlights packages are already prepared and ready for distribution on various platforms.

At the end of each day, games, clips and edits recorded on the NEXIO AMP servers are stored and archived on an Isilon near-line disc storage system. The archived content, which contains metadata, is easily retrievable.

Mobile TV strikes a chord with Italian fans
The end result has met and exceeded the expectations of the customer on several different levels. Within a short period of the system’s commercial launch it has proved popular with soccer fans across the country. As well as Serie A clubs, this service is proving popular amongst supporters of many of the country’s smaller football clubs.

“We went to Harris with a business requirement — create an overall archive of Italian football league matches which could serve Infront’s multifaceted needs in terms of live, near live and delayed audio-visual material customer feeds,” commented Claudio Cavallotti, Director, Production and Technical Facilities at Infront Italy.  “The Harris workflow made this project possible.  Invenio DAM is managing the content from our Infront digital archive, based on a large Isilon cluster.  It is an elegant and powerful media management tool that supports the exploitation of our valuable archive.”

Infront Sports & Media handles the media and marketing rights for many large, international sports events and federations, and also provides sports services such as advertising solutions and sponsorship implementation.  It manages the host broadcast production for a range of summer and winter sports worldwide. The Harris Invenio and NEXIO AMP architecture is so successful that the company has started to extend its reach beyond Italian league football to include sports such as skiing and superbikes.  

The distribution of media content, in particular to mobile devices, is a valuable pillar in the commercialisation of sports events. At Harris, we believe that this application is an early example of a growing application set in the new media age.

Working closely with Infront Italy we have created a powerful new digital media asset workflow that links sports stadiums with a network of millions of fixed and mobile devices providing rich content that service providers value highly. Invenio and NEXIO AMP are technologies that are firmly rooted in the broadcast domain, but here we are demonstrating their power and versatility to evolve into new multi-platform business models.

Walking around the halls at IBC this September, you could see a wide range of equipment manufacturers that were claiming to offer OTT and multi-screen distribution platforms. However when you look closer, there are very few that can claim to be providing real-life solutions for customers – especially solutions that provide the means for rights holders to develop new markets and new revenue streams from their core content.

Without doubt, over the coming years we will see a proliferation of these new ‘anycast’ models (anywhere, anytime, anyhow). Working with Infront Sports & Media we have demonstrated that this is possible today. Infront are pioneers in their field and we have demonstrated that the integrated workflows that we have generated and continue to evolve can help these pioneers fulfil their visions. As the saying goes – we live in interesting times: make sure that you watch this space. 

Invenio digital asset management – from entry to enterprise level
Harris digital asset management systems provide media organizations with a centralized solution for managing digital media files and their underlying metadata. It enables users to ingest, edit, catalogue, store, retrieve, move and distribute digital assets within the unique workflow that best suits each individual organization. By freeing up these tasks, broadcasters and content owners gain the upper hand in managing the complete lifecycle of their media content — inside and outside of their company.

Invenio is a suite of software solutions that can take broadcasters from ingest all the way to complete digital asset management — ensuring today’s investment fits an operation’s needs now and into the future. Providing a total media asset platform, Invenio empowers creators and owners to manage the entire content life cycle, from ingest to cataloguing, storage and retrieval to support today’s multiple platform distribution. With its modular design, Invenio lets users build a system from the bottom up, enabling them to meet current requirements and then continually upgrade to the next level as the operation’s needs change.

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